Sun, Dec 05, 2004 - Page 23 News List

Virginia Tech and Miami challenge for a bowl berth

NY TIMES NEWS SERVICE , NEW YORK

In their first year in the ACC, No. 10 Virginia Tech at No. 9 Miami (8-2) will be playing for at least a share of the conference title and the BCS berth that goes along with it.

Virginia Tech would win the conference outright with a victory, while a Miami victory would give the Hurricanes and Florida State a share of the conference title.

Miami, however, would likely gain the BCS bowl berth with a higher BCS ranking. The Hokies are coming off a 24-10 victory over Virginia, while Miami ought to be rested coming off a bye week.

Army (2-8) versus Navy (8-2)

Despite the recent struggles of the Army program, this is still one of the most storied rivalries in sports.

Although the Cadets have lost eight games this season under first-year head coach Bobby Ross, a win against Navy would help to turn their season around.

Navy, however, is 8-2 and boasts the nation's third-ranked rushing offense thanks in large part to the play of fullback Kyle Eckel. Army counters with the nation's 115th-ranked rushing defense.

No. 1 USC (11-0) versus UCLA (6-4)

USC has won 20 in a row and 31 of its last 32 and with a win this Saturday against rival UCLA, the Trojans will secure a spot in the Orange Bowl to play for the national title.

USC quarterback Matt Leinart is a Heisman candidate, and is coming off a huge win last week against Notre Dame in which he threw for a career-best 400 yards and tied a school record with five touchdown passes.

On the other side of the ball, the Trojans boast the nation's fifth-ranked defense. Although the Bruins will have their hands full, at least they will be well rested. They last played Oregon on Nov. 13.

No. 3 Auburn (11-0) versus

No. 15 Tennessee (9-2)

With a win, the Tigers would secure an unbeaten season and an SEC title, but that might not be good enough to get them into the title game.

Although the last two teams to boast 8-0 conference records in the SEC (Florida in 1996 and Tennessee in 1998) won national titles, Auburn will likely need an Oklahoma or USC loss to even play for the national crown.

On Oct. 2 Tennessee committed six turnovers and lost to Auburn, 34-10, at home.

Colorado (7-4) versus

No. 2 Oklahoma (11-0)

Last year Oklahoma fell to Kansas State, 35-7, in the Big 12 title game and still managed to score a berth in the title game. This year the Sooners will not be so lucky.

With Auburn close behind, Oklahoma needs a victory to play for the national title. With Heisman trophy candidates at quarterback (Jason White) and at running back (the freshman Adrian Peterson), the Sooners will likely have too much firepower for Colorado to handle.

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